On Pace for a Miracle

Was it God’s grace that saved a runner from a fatal heart attack?

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Adam Hunter, Mysterious Ways blogger

This week’s “ripped from the headlines” Mysterious Ways story comes from Grand Haven, Michigan.

Larry Ritsema was out for an early morning jog around his neighborhood Memorial Day weekend. On a quiet, shady street, he began to feel faint. Suddenly, everything went black. Larry collapsed to the asphalt.

Less than a minute later, Tom Alguire zipped past on his bicycle. He caught sight of the figure crumpled next to the curb, squeezed the hand brakes and turned to get a closer look. Tom hopped off his bike and ran over. He recognized Larry immediately.

Tom had been Larry’s doctor for nearly 20 years.

Dr. Tom felt for a pulse. Finding none, he began to perform CPR on Larry. It wouldn’t restart Larry’s heart, but it would keep the blood flowing until someone else arrived. Tom could only hope someone would come by soon, just after 7 in the morning on a holiday weekend. Tom couldn’t stop the chest compressions to run for help—Larry’s brain cells would die without the blood. And Tom didn’t have a cell phone on him.

Soon, a car did drive by. But the driver ignored Tom’s plea for help. What was he going to do?

Finally, another car came down the road, driven by Michael Saliot, a U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer. Michael wasn’t one to pass up a person in need. He quickly dialed 911.

First on the scene was a police officer with a portable electronic defibrillator. Tom pulled off Larry’s shirt, charged the paddles and pressed them to Larry’s chest. Zap! The shock caused Larry’s body to jump. Tom took Larry’s pulse again. The paddles had worked; his heart was beating again.

Doctors at the hospital found severe blockages in two of Larry’s major arteries. He’d literally dropped dead—doctors call his type of heart attack a “widow maker.” Only the timely arrival of Dr. Tom saved his life.

And what about that timely arrival? How did Dr. Tom happen to be bicycling that morning, down that quiet street?

Mysterious Ways Miracle Bicyclist Saved The Grand Rapids Press reports:

• Tom had not ridden a bike in a year when his daughter, Katie, asked him Sunday night to go for a ride Monday morning. Tom spent about an hour Sunday evening getting his bike ready.

• On Monday morning, his daughter woke up with a sore throat and couldn't ride. Tom decided to go anyway, since the bike was ready, but he talked to Katie for a while, delaying his start.

• Tom also rode a different—easier—route than he would have taken with Katie. If he had gone with her, he never would have passed the spot where Larry fell.

• As Tom rode, his bike chain fell off. He spent about eight minutes putting it back on, which delayed him further.

"It strikes me as being a little too much for chance," Tom told the Press. "But I don't know how to put it.”

Larry knows how he would describe it. “There are too many—you could call them coincidences,” he told the Press. “I think you can only explain them one way: divine intervention.”

What do you think? Just a series of unlikely coincidences? Or God's timing at work?

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